We have wonderful next-door neighbors. We chat and pick up each other's packages, and we visit their sukkah every year, and they're just lovely people. They're two married sisters and their families who share a two family house and I'm not altogether sure which kids belong to whom. A few years ago, we were pleased to be informed about the location of a son's bar mitzvah.
We were quite shocked to be given a full invitation to their oldest daughter's wedding - not just the chuppah, but the dinner as well. I semi-expected (but only semi) expected the first. We accepted, of course. The wedding was last night.
Now, one must understand that we are still in the period of sefirah, the time between Pesach and Shavuot in which we count the Omer. In these days is a period of semi-mourning - no haircuts, no live music, no weddings. There are some stricter versions - no music at all, for example, instead of being permitted recorded music. Most commonly among Asknenazim is to end these practices on the 33rd day, a night celebrated by weddings and fireworks, a day celebrated by outings to the park, and 3 year old boys getting their first haircuts.
Others do the same, but take up the same practices after that day. So a wedding during sefirah is...entirely possible and happens, but not in every group.
Still. We follow the most common custom.
I bought them a pewter mezuzah case plus a scroll as a present.
Getting dressed was interesting - I actually did have to safety pin my suit skirt. There's a real chance I won't wear that suit again. Fortunately, I like long suit jackets, so the pins were not visible at all. I looked for my silver dogwood pin, but I couldn't find it, so I used a flea market rose pin instead. And I used a small regular purse instead of an evening purse, since I have to carry my testing kit, and wanted my pda and cellphone. An evening purse would be too small.
And I wore my new granny boots. Not the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn, but I could dance in them. I topped the outfit off with black scarf with silver stripes and a very subtle rose pattern over a pink scarf. It worked very well with the rose pin.
I took a cab to the catering hall, which was silly, as I could have caught a ride with my landlady, who was also invited. In fact, the entire block was invited. :)
The bride's reception was, well. Boring. I went to the bride on her throne (who once again proved that all brides are beautiful) and wished her mazel tov,and said the same to her mother and aunt,and cousis and sisters, and chatted a bit with my landlady and a couple of other neighbors, and chose my food carefully. And then I decided I wanted a drink.
Everyone else at the bar was getting fancy mixed and bender drinks - my landlady proudly got a virgin strawberry daquiri.
I got a wine glass with a shot of Black Label scotch. :) And then jonbaker showed up and he had a sip. He came just in time for the bedeken - for the groom to put the veil over the bride's face. He was danced in by his friends and current and future male relatives, to the sound of horns and singing, and the look on his face when he saw Sarah Miriam. He'd hadn't seen her for a week, and she looked so lovely and it was just amazing - happy and scared at the same time. As it should be.
Then he drew the veil over her face and was danced away, and we all filed into the chapel for the chuppah. No bridesmaids or groomsman (these are permitted and Orthodox Jewish weddings do have them, but many choose to be more traditional), just proud and happy grandparents and siblings, with first the groom and then the bride walking down between their respective parents. Then, under the velvet chuppah, the bride walked seven times around the groom, the mothers holding her train. And the ring and the ketubah being read, and then the seven blessings by men important to the couple, and then they're danced back down the aisle to the yichud room and food (they'd been fasting) and pictures.
The rest of us made our way to our tables. I sat with other women from our block, many of whom I'd met at a weekly Psalm reading. I did test my blood after the whiskey, and it was fine. I ate half the first course, couldn't finish the extremely salty soup, and then finally the bride came in (groom, too, but as he was on the other side of the mechtiza...) and the dancing began. Okay, it was mostly shuffling, even after the one huge circle became three smaller ones - one around the bride, and one around each of the mothers.
Huh. No chair dance, except for the one the bride sat in when she became tired. Maybe it happened after we left, but I doubt it. I didn't even realize it until now.
Eventually, the dancing wore down, and the main course was served - choice of fried chicken filet, grilled chicken filet or baked leg, plus veggies, potatoe knish and apple strudel. I passed on the strudel. We left during dessert (serve yourself pareve ice cream and coffee) and the last bit of dancing, along with other people. We got a ride with another couple from our block. Interestingly, they were the first parents to invite us to a wedding, but it's pretty clear that that's the way things will be from now on - going to friends' kids' weddings.
All in all, a pleasant evening.
I just bought a huge amount of produce given I'm not much of an herbivore - tonight's dinner, tomorrow's dinner, Friday lunch and Friday dinner. Maybe because it's such a dairy holiday.
Tonight is beef fajitas, so I needed onions and green peppers and I think I'll use carrots, too. And avocado and fake sour cream and salsa and lime juice.
Tomorrow dinner is spaghetti tossed with fresh garlic, green onions, sundried tomatoes, white pepper, skim ricotta, the best olive oil I could find and pumpkin seeds. I think a salad for the first course and melon for dessert. I bought both cantelope and watermelon.
Friday's lunch is cold baked salmon in yogurt dill sauce (lowfat yogurt, fresh dill, salt), with prepared salads I'll get tomorrow. Friday's lunch is veal stew with noodles, and I'll serve a grapefruit onion salad as the first course, I think. Or a green salad with grapefruit in it. I'm not sure.
And I saw one of the cousins of last night's bride on the way home. And I thought, "Yesterday a wedding,and now they have a holiday." And then I realized, "Yom tov sheva brachot! How cool!"